Flashback: Vietnam

Reflecting and reading back about my adventures in Southeast Asia, I thought it would be fun to “flashback” a little to finish up my adventures. That probably sounds kind of weird to do a year later, but I hope you enjoy anyways 🙂

Being in Vietnam I had to change my mindset about certain things I had grown up hearing about.  The biggest, and probably most obvious, was there was no Vietnam War; it was the American War.  All of sudden, I was the “bad guy.”  That’s not to say I’ve ever thought of Vietnamese people as bad and I’m not so ignorant as to think that the U.S. (or any country) always makes the right decisions.  Just, realistically, don’t most people want to view their country as the “good guys?”  I know I do.  Now, to leave the semi-political atmosphere that seems all to inevitable and onto the fun!

I brought up the semi-political thought, because as you will see, it was a major theme of the day.

To start our adventure, we went off to an a factory where victims of Agent Orange are able to work. They create, by hand, works of art.  They paint, sculpt, carve, and in a unique art form they use eggshells to create beautiful art. Admittedly, I was surprised to see a place for disabled individuals to work because there aren’t any places like that in Cambodia to my knowledge.  As we walked through the factory we received many smiles, and many puzzled looks (I think the workers wondered if Martina had been an Agent Orange victim as well).

(sorry it's blurry)

After some gift shopping, we loaded the bus and headed to our next destination: the Cu Chi Tunnels. This place was cool; it was a section of what is apparently a much larger network of tunnels used during the Vietnam conflict.  The people lived in these tunnels which can’t be more than a few feet tall and a couple feet wide (I’m only estimating because I had to squat down the whole time and my shoulders were often only inches from the walls). Living in these tunnels would have been absolutely miserable.  They were dark, damp, short on oxygen, and had to deal with all sorts of creepy critters–all the while worrying about American troops and bombings. However, these people were not defenseless, they had booby traps (some pretty nasty ones too) and were able to avoid detection quite effectively. More than anything, I was amazed to see what people were willing to endure to survive. Just incredible.

Going through the tunnels I was able to experience a little bit of American history, in another country oddly enough. The day’s adventure was eye-opening and unique.  I am grateful that I could go on this particular adventure. So if ever you have a chance to adventure in the past, adventure on!

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Adventures in Vietnam: Part I

So, with a post about my internships up and doing its things, let us for a moment return to some of my adventuring! Last time we had been in Siem Reap visiting the many temple of Angkor, but for this adventure we’ll be leaving the country … let’s go to Vietnam!

Our gang on the boat

This trip had considerably less people than the last adventure to Siem Reap (due to budget issues, most of the Thai crew were unable to accompany us).  It turned out to be nice; we were able to get to know one another better, and travel with a smaller group is always easier.  Our group of 14 set out on a boat from just outside of Phnom Penh to our first stop: Cau Doc.  Travel by boat was fun, in a way it reminded me of riding the ferry in Puget Sound.  Ahh…noustalgia.

Cau Doc isn’t much of a tourist town, but it was a great way to introduce us to Vietnam.  It’s a little town on the river, with a mountain that is supposed to have a spectacular view (sad to say my legs were still recuperating after all the trekking in Angkor, thus Martina and I were unable to go up.  It was really depressing.)  They have some very pretty Wats with beautiful grounds.  We spent the night here in a nice little hotel.

The next morning we had a chance to explore more of Cau Doc with a tour group.  The group took us on rowboats on the river to a floating village!  Literally houses floating on the river; there was a hut to buy fish, sleeping shacks, and several other types of shanties.  I could only imagine the type of lives these people must live.  It was peaceful on the river, and if it hadn’t been so hot it would have been much more enjoyable.

Though we said goodbye to Cau Doc, we knew we were on our way to Saigon (aka Ho Chi Minh City).  Yet, before we could arrive there, we had to make one more stop… at an alligator farm!  Like the zoo in Cambodia, minimal precaution was taken in the construction of this place and so alligators were easily accessible.  However, remembering my youthful days watching Animal Planet, I decided it best not to hop over the cement divide.  Not everyone felt that way, but they can tell you about that if they want.  Sadly, I was unable to partake of any alligator despite a restaurant on the premises, but it was still really neat to see so many alligators.

We reached Saigon that night (with all our limbs), found our hotel (which was quite small), and then went out for pizza.  It was a pretty perfect ending to a pretty exciting day.  Stay tuned for the next installment of my adventures in Vietnam!  Adventure on fun-seekers!!